In discussion about prayin to saints

I am in a discussion about praying to saints and was wondering if someone could help me clear some things up. I gave this person what the CA library says about “praying to the dead” and this was his response jsut wondering if you guys had any thoughts on what he said.

CA Library: Sometimes Fundamentalists object to asking our fellow Christians in heaven to pray for us by declaring that God has forbidden contact with the dead in passages such as Deuteronomy 18:10–11. In fact, he has not, because he at times has given it—for example, when he had Moses and Elijah appear with Christ to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3).

**He said: ** And notice that nowhere in this account do the disciples ever try to contact them.

CA Library: What God has forbidden is necromantic practice of conjuring up spirits. “There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. . . . For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed” (Deut. 18:10–15).

He said So then, if you admit that God has condemned this practice, why do you insist on doing it?

CA Library: God thus indicates that one is not to conjure the dead for purposes of gaining information; one is to look to God’s prophets instead.

He said: When Mary allegedly appears at Fatima, Medjegure or various Mexican food items, does she not give information?

Do Roman Catholics not pray to Mary to deliver messages from God?

CA Library Thus one is not to hold a seance. But anyone with an ounce of common sense can discern the vast qualitative difference between holding a seance to have the dead speak through you and a son humbly saying at his mother’s grave, “Mom, please pray to Jesus for me; I’m having a real problem right now.”

He said: First of all, why would you pray to a dead person, anyway?

Second, why not just pray to God?

CA Library: The difference between the two is the difference between night and day. One is an occult practice bent on getting secret information; the other is a humble request for a loved one to pray to God on one’s behalf.

He said: Both are occult practices.

Ultimately he wants scriptural references about praying to the saints (obviously other then what CA library provided) so just wondering if anyone could lend any help.

God Bless

Your friend is not going to be convinced by anything that you find. His responses to the CA articles that you provided for him are intellectually dishonest. It may be beneficial for him to see the practices of the Early Church in the matter of praying to the dead.

I have converted many people away from the position that you friend is holding by asking a few simple questions and letting reason do the rest. The line of questioning usually goes as follows:

Q. Are you a Christian?
A. Yes.

Q. Do you believe in heaven?
A. Yes.

Q. Are people in heaven dead?

To this last question they cannot answer yes because they know that from scripture that those who die is Christ live. Hence when you are praying to a person in heaven you are not praying to a person who is dead but rather you are conversing with a person who is truly alive - actually more fully alive then what we are here.

Your friend also asks the question why not go directly to God?

I ask:

Q. Do you ask people to pray for you?
A. Yes.

Q. Why?

Whatever their response is to this it follows that they do not just go to God.

Your friend may also confuse prayer with worship (as most protestants do). For this you can only refer him to Augustine who makes the distinction between latrea (worship/adoration) and dulia (honor) and hyper-dulia (reserved to Mary) meaning extreme honor. This may take a lot of other work to convince your friend.

These may be of interest:

Intercessory Prayer of Saints
Rom 15:30 - join me by your prayers to God on my behalf
Col 4:3, 1Thess 5:25 - pray for us
2Thess 1:11 - we always pray for you
2Thess 3:1 - finally, brothers, pray for us
Eph 6:18-19 - making supplication for all the saints & for me
Tob 12:12 - angel presents Tobit & Sarah’s prayer to God
Ps 148 - David calls upon angels
Zech 1:12 - angel intercedes for Jerusalem
Mk 12:25, Mt 22:30 - men in heaven are as the angels
Rev 5:8 - those in heaven offer prayers of the holy ones to God
*Saints dead, prayer is necromancy (Dt 18:10-11)
Mk 12:26-27 - he is God of the living, not of the dead
Mk 9:4 - Jesus seen conversing with Elijah & Moses
Lk 9:31 - Elijah & Moses aware of earthly events
Rev 6:9-11 - martyrs under altar want earthly vindication
Heb 12:1 - we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses
Lk 16:19-30 - departed rich man intercedes for brothers
Rev 20:4 - saw the souls of those who had been beheaded
Wis 3:1-6 - the souls of the just are in the hand of God
2Macc 15:7-16 - the departed Onias & Jeremiah pray for the Jews
Jas 5:16 Prayers of righteous man
1 Cor. 13:12 - I shall understand fully
1 John 4: 20-21 - whoever loves God must love his brother
1 Cor 12:21 - parts of Christ’s Body cannot say to other parts, “I do not need you”.

Source: geocities.com/thecatholicconvert/biblecheatsheet.html

Since it’s OK to pray to angels (see above), by virtue of their dignity of being united with God, it’s therefore logical to call upon human souls who are likewise have the dignity of being united with God.

Also, are we not called to imitate Christ who is without sin? Christ called upon Moses & Elijah. If any and all types of communication with those in Heaven is a sinful practice, then Jesus sinned… which I doubt your friend is prepared to charge.

You might also ask your friend if he knows the difference between “pray” and “worship”, although he does not appear to be making charges of idolatry.

Also bring up that the Bible commands us to pray for one another. The “Me & Jesus” alone idea is unbiblical. You ask the Saints for intercession for the same reason you ask your friends for their intercession.

[quote=Roman_Catholic] wondering if you guys had any thoughts on what he said.
[/quote]

I have to say that this person is not exactly engaging the arguments, and has a derisive tone. You may not get anywhere, but you should at least tell him to engage in a debate respectfully, as failure to do so possibly indicates a weakness in his arguments.

[quote=Roman_Catholic]**He said: ** And notice that nowhere in this account do the disciples ever try to contact them.
[/quote]

How come seeing and hearing the two don’t count as contact?

[quote=Roman_Catholic]He said So then, if you admit that God has condemned this practice, why do you insist on doing it?
[/quote]

This is NOT an answer. This is simply him repeating his challenge without listening to the explanation.

[quote=Roman_Catholic]CA Library: God thus indicates that one is not to conjure the dead for purposes of gaining information; one is to look to God’s prophets instead.
[/quote]

We ask the saints for their interecession; we’re not asking them for winning lotto numbers or seeking information that we ought not to seek. Again, this guy’s attitude is a problem.

[quote=Roman_Catholic]He said: When Mary allegedly appears at Fatima, Medjegure or various Mexican food items, does she not give information?
[/quote]

Fatima is not the result of someone trying to get information. Fatima was a gift, and no Catholic is required to put any stock in such things anyway.

[quote=Roman_Catholic]Do Roman Catholics not pray to Mary to deliver messages from God?
[/quote]

Ummm…he needs to explain here. I pray to Mary for her intercession, not her delivery service.

[quote=Roman_Catholic]He said: First of all, why would you pray to a dead person, anyway?
[/quote]

So, then, he doesn’t believe in the afterlife? Is he an atheist? When he dies, that’s it? Revelations speaks of the saints in heaven offering up the prayers of the saints (holy ones) on earth (symbolized by bowls of incense). Ask him how they can do that if they’re A–dead; and B–can’t hear us.

[quote=Roman_Catholic]Second, why not just pray to God?
[/quote]

Typical Protestant “either/or” thinking. We do both.
.

[quote=Roman_Catholic]He said: Both are occult practices.

[/quote]

Ask him to explain why that is so. Simply stating that it is is NOT an argument.

Alright here you guys go, Sherlock I said basically whay you said to say and I used to references from DeFide

Me How come seeing and hearing the two don’t count?

**Him ** Because seeing and hearing are not contacting. Contacting is contacting.

Me This is not an answer, this is simply repeating the challenge without listening to the explanation.

Him Why won’t you answer the question?

Me Fatima is not the result of someone trying to get information. Fatima was a gift, and no Catholic is required to to put any stock in such things anyways.

Him So then, no Roman Catholics pray for messages from Mary? Do Roman Catholics take these messages seriously? Do they rebuke Mary?

Me Could you explain this. We pray to Mary for intercession, not her delivery service.

Him First of all, why are you praying to anyone but God? That is idolatry. Second, why are you praying to the dead? That is necromancy. Third, your experience is not the whole of Roman Catholicism.

Me I think you are confused. God is the King of the living. Those who die in Christ live, hence when you are praying to someone in heaven you are not praying to someone who is dead.

Him If the Bible says that they are dead, then I have to take God’s word over yours.

Me Catholic Church never teaches that one HAS to use the saints for intercession. We do both.

Him That wasn’t the question. The Bible commands us to pray for one another.The Bible never tells us to pray to the dead, nor does it tell us to pray to anyone other than God. In fact, both of these practices are harshly condemned.

Me the “Me and Jesus” alone stance is unbiblical.

Him No, actually, the idea that Jesus is the one Mediator between God and man is entirely Biblical.

Me You may also want to find the difference between worship and pray.

Him Justify it and redefine your words any way you like but the Bible still calls it wicked.

Then the references

Rom 15:30 - join me by your prayers to God on my behalf
Col 4:3, 1Thess 5:25 - pray for us
2Thess 1:11 - we always pray for you
2Thess 3:1 - finally, brothers, pray for us
Eph 6:18-19 - making supplication for all the saints & for me
Tob 12:12 - angel presents Tobit & Sarah’s prayer to God
Ps 148 - David calls upon angels
Zech 1:12 - angel intercedes for Jerusalem
Mk 12:25, Mt 22:30 - men in heaven are as the angels
Rev 5:8 - those in heaven offer prayers of the holy ones to God
*Saints dead, prayer is necromancy (Dt 18:10-11)
Mk 12:26-27 - he is God of the living, not of the dead
Mk 9:4 - Jesus seen conversing with Elijah & Moses
Lk 9:31 - Elijah & Moses aware of earthly events
Rev 6:9-11 - martyrs under altar want earthly vindication
Heb 12:1 - we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses
Lk 16:19-30 - departed rich man intercedes for brothers
Rev 20:4 - saw the souls of those who had been beheaded
Wis 3:1-6 - the souls of the just are in the hand of God
2Macc 15:7-16 - the departed Onias & Jeremiah pray for the Jews
Jas 5:16 Prayers of righteous man
1 Cor. 13:12 - I shall understand fully
1 John 4: 20-21 - whoever loves God must love his brother
1 Cor 12:21 - parts of Christ’s Body cannot say to other parts, “I do not need you”.

Him Irrelevant. None of the people here are being prayed to. None of them are dead.

Thanks again guys for your help

As I said he is being intellectualy dishonest.

But Jesus Himself spoke with them (Moses and Elijah)…

Praying to saints is not necromancy. In fact, to make such a claim is to implicitly deny the work of Christ. We insist, and so does Christian practice from antiquity, that they who die in Christ remain in Him (Rom 14:8), while also remaining creatures of God. They are in Christ and Christ is in them. Praying to them is praying to a part of the body of Christ, who lives forever (John 11:26).

NT Scriptures were mainly written within 30 years of the resurrection, the latest being by John around 100 A.D. Since most of the Apostles had been alive when writing the Gospels, and the Gospels were mostly about Our Lord, there was not much occasion to be praying to post-resurrection saints, which is when it would make sense.

The epistles do mention communication with the “dead”. One is Saul’s conversion story in which he communicates with Jesus in a vision (Acts 9:4-7). Another case is when Peter calls to the dead woman to arise (Acts 9:40).

But if someone insists that praying to saints is necromancy, then of course they should not do it. But that is them not knowing what it means to pray to saints. And what is not done with faith, is sin (Rom 14:23).

Praying to saints can be equated to a form of union with the risen body of Our Lord, in Whom we live and abide, as a branch on the vine. That is why we not only ask for them to pray for us, but ask for things directly from them. They have the reward of their merits, and their own works follow them (Apoc 14:13). There is already a certain amount of God’s grace flowing through them for us. Yet, if we ask for something they do not already have, they themselves ask for it from higher saints or angels or even God Himself.

If Protestants truly use only the Bible for their guide, then how are they to know which parts of the OT are still expected to be followed? If the law is no longer needed, then why are they making an issue of necromancy? And if it is needed, why not also complain about not following the sabbaths and festivals of the Jews? (SDA’s do complain about this, actually). Why follow some things and not others? The answer is that the Church is governing us now by the Chair of Peter, and no longer by the Chair of Moses. Seances are deemed sinful, but praying to saints is deemed praiseworthy. They are part of the Body of Christ.

hurst

Dear RC,

I don’t address all your issues, by i argue from reason here on my blog.

Here’s a quote:

Let us first consider the argument, there is no way they could ever hear our prayers. This is dethroned mainly from the analysis we have already made: the saints and angels are aware of basically everything that is going on on earth, both temporally and spiritually. Specifically, if the angels and saints are aware of the conversion of sinners, as we have just seen, we must emphasize that this is a very deep awareness, as, in Catholic dogma, even we as humans can never be absolutely certain we have the state of grace (saving a special Revelation from God), for grace is supernatural and transcends our thoughts and emotions. It is something that occurs within our soul. Hence, if the angels and saints are aware of this reality that we ourselves cannot even be fully certain of, how much more so would the angels and saints be aware of our very thoughts and emotions, as well as our out-loud speech. This makes a very compelling case that if we were to ask a saint for help or prayers, either in thought or out loud, certainly that saint could be aware of it, again, not by his intrinsic power, but by God’s power, mediated to the saint who is in God’s very presence. Hence, it seems quite plausible that God could make our requests to the saints known by them through His general power to them to see everything that is going on.

Secondly, we must say that asking a fellow Christian on earth to pray for us is not worshipping that fellow brother. For example, St. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, many times used against Catholics when it states, “for there is One Mediator, Jesus Christ,” states in the very same section that we ought to offer supplications and prayers for our fellow brothers and sisters. In this way, we are not detracting from the one Mediatorship of Christ but are rather drawing all of our efficacy from His One Mediatorship. That is, Christ, through His ultimate power, can mediate to us secondary mediatory power. In other words, when we intercede before God for a fellow brother on earth, we are not usurping Christ’s role as Mediator but rather loving our brother in a way as to draw the power of our prayers from Christ’s ultimate Mediatorship. With this in view, why would the saints in heaven no longer exercise this power? First of all, they are fully aware of our spiritual and temporal state. Secondly, they have a perfect (but finite) love of God and neighbor, especially us on earth, who have yet to come to be with God. Consequently, they are certainly concerned about us. Why, then, would they not pray for us, asking God to help us, even if they couldn’t hear our prayers?

In conclusion, if Christ wills us to pray for one another on earth, drawing all of the efficacy of our secondary mediatorship from Christ’s ultimate, One Mediatorship, why would we not continue to do this when we get to heaven, seeing as the best estimates would indicate we will be fully aware of the entire spiritual and temporal situation over the whole earth? And why would God not provide a way for us on earth to petition our brothers and sisters in heaven to pray for us?

GB,

scott:)

In the deuterocanonical verses of Daniel, from the midst of the fiery furnace, the three young men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) directly address the spirits and souls of the just, asking them to praise God:
Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. (Daniel 3:86)
Catholics are simply following the example of these three faithful “servants of the most high God” when they ask the saints in heaven to pray for them.

Prayer is asking. David asks or requests the angels to do something. Did you ask him what he thought of Jesus communicating with two “dead” :rolleyes: folks?

Your friend erroneously equates prayer with worship. When I ask you to pray for me, I am not mistaking you for God.

DeFide is right. Fundamentalist view of prayer is limited to ‘God alone’ because they see worship=prayer. They should look up the different meanings of prayer in the dictionary and realize that only one of them pertains to God (worship). :slight_smile:

There is a quick and simple way to get to the heart of this issue and mosher already mentioned it. Simplify it for them.

Ask questions like:

  1. Is it okay for us to pray for one another? (Rom 15:30)
  2. Are all christians a part of the ONE BODY of CHRIST? (Rom 12:5)
  3. When we die are we removed from that ONE BODY?
  4. Are the saints in heaven dead or alive? (Mk 12:26-27)
  5. Since we are a part of the same BODY as the saints in heaven then why can’t they hear us? (Heb 12:1) (Rev 5:8; 8:3)
  6. Since we are acting as ‘mediators’ to God when we pray for others, does that nullify Jesus’ role as the “one mediator”?

Asking questions like these simplifies the argument and makes it easier to explain and understand.

Praying is asking, that is correct. But how do you know that “saint” So-and-So you are praying to even went to Heaven?

At least if I were to ask someone here on earth to pray for me about something, I know they have heard me. You can’t say that with any degree of certainty about some person that you don’t even know for sure is in Heaven, let alone know whether he actually heard you.

[quote=squeekster]Praying is asking, that is correct. But how do you know that “saint” So-and-So you are praying to even went to Heaven?

At least if I were to ask someone here on earth to pray for me about something, I know they have heard me. You can’t say that with any degree of certainty about some person that you don’t even know for sure is in Heaven, let alone know whether he actually heard you.
[/quote]

The process for canonization is a long and extensively documented one, and currently requires two approved posthumous miracles. I have no doubt, given the criteria, that those that the Church have named as saints since these criteria have been in place are in heaven. It is true that the details of some of the very earliest saints are often lost in the mists of time, but the tradition of the people carries weight with me on those.
As for saints hearing: Revelation speaks of the saints in heaven offering up the prayers of the saints on earth to God (symbolized by bowls of incense). They have to hear them in order to present them to God, no?

[quote=Sherlock]The process for canonization is a long and extensively documented one, and currently requires two approved posthumous miracles. I have no doubt, given the criteria, that those that the Church have named as saints since these criteria have been in place are in heaven.
[/quote]

Describe “posthumous miracles” and also how whoever is in charge of approving them comes to the conclusion it was a particular person that did it. Last I heard, only God could do miracles.

[quote=squeekster]Describe “posthumous miracles” and also how whoever is in charge of approving them comes to the conclusion it was a particular person that did it. Last I heard, only God could do miracles.
[/quote]

As an aside, you will note that the person never said the Saint “did it”. You have indeed not been misinformed that only God does miracles. The thought in play is that, it was in response to the Saint’s prayers that God “did it”. And if God hears their prayers, they are in heaven.

I will also note that the miracles are subjected to much scrutiny, for instance at Lourdes, by non-Catholic doctors and others. Only the smallest percent of reported “miracles” are ever validated as authentic by the Church. Quite the opposite of what most people think, actually.

[quote=squeekster]Describe “posthumous miracles” and also how whoever is in charge of approving them comes to the conclusion it was a particular person that did it.
[/quote]

A “postumous miracle” by the prophet Elisha is described in 2 Kings:

20So Eli’sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli’sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli’sha, he revived, and stood on his feet. (2 Kings 13:20-21)

Referring to this “postumous miracle” of Elisha, the author of Sirach says:12It was Elijah who was covered by the whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit; in all his days he did not tremble before any ruler, and no one brought him into subjection. 13Nothing was too hard for him, and when he was dead his body prophesied. 14As in his life he did wonders, so in death his deeds were marvelous. (Sirah 48:12-14)

Last I heard, only God could do miracles.

Sometimes God is pleased to work miracles through the hands of, that is, through the intercession of, His faithful servants:

12Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. (Acts 5:12)

Wait a minute here. There is no need to deny that the Saint “did it”. Jesus even says “we” will do things:

John 14:12 Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.

The fact is, their “works” follow them to heaven.

Apoc 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying to me: Write: Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; for their works follow them.

It is my understanding that in addition to asking for things on our behalf to God, a Saint in heaven can also do something directly for us because of their merits, by which they are able to show forth God’s power of their own accord, even as they did while on earth. Yet, they are “in Christ”, and so it is Christ doing it through them. Yet, their will is involved. We do not believe in pantheism. The creature will be forever distinct from God, though we are united to God by our love. This point against pantheism is important in preserving the true Faith. It is thus very important to venerate the saints as distinct from God yet united to Him in the mystical body of Christ.

hurst

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.